EQ > IQ
We build on each other’s ideas and celebrate wins together.
We’re fortunate to work with an incredibly smart, driven team. While this means that we can get competitive from time to time, our end goal is not to be competitive with one another, but rather compete as a company. For instance, in meetings, our engineering leads make sure to grab a part of an idea, attribute it to that person, and then seek advice from the team as to how we can build on it. Taking the time to recognize each other’s contributions and being open to different viewpoints not only enables us to do our best work, it also drives the best outcomes for the company.
An open mindset is a quality we actively screen for. Every candidate that progresses to the onsite interview is asked to do a presentation, and if we ask technical questions that are peripheral or challenge their assertions, we pay careful attention to how they respond. We’re looking for people who are able to say, “wow, I didn’t think about that” and are open to exploring different avenues.
Our customers are some of the biggest names in the automotive industry and we regularly interface with them.
We build software that makes robots run to the best of their capabilities, solving real-world automotive manufacturing problems. We’ve programmed robots to seat torque converters in transmissions, a task which originally took multiple people, a crane, and lots of wiggling. We’ve also automated underbody waxing of cars and bolt-fastening.
Successfully solving automotive assembly line challenges requires interfacing directly with our clients, who include Nissan, Ford, and Toyota. Engineers often visit our customers’ manufacturing plants in places like Detroit and Kentucky to see firsthand the pain points they’re facing. Instead of searching for problems that fit our state-of-the-art technology, we look to our customers to get their feedback on how we can make their lives easier, increase the productivity of the factory, and enable them to build their product faster and more efficiently. Our customers’ needs drive our timelines and roadmap. This unique communication loop allows us to have a strong product-market fit and deliver solutions that wow our customers.
We foster continuous feedback internally with bi-annual performance reviews, specifically soliciting feedback from our team members. Our executive team then shares this feedback with the broader team, along with actions they’re taking to address it.
As an engineer, you can expect to be on multiple projects and have regular meetings with project leads to discuss what’s working and what needs to be improved. Regardless of your role, you’re encouraged to ping whoever you need to ask questions, get help, and move things forward.
Safe Environment to Fail
We view mistakes as learning opportunities.
In order to innovate, you have to take risks and make mistakes along the way. “We chase direction from customers and don’t hold it against engineers if their project doesn’t wind up being successful,” says John. Robotics is also inherently cross-functional, so when something isn’t working, we have to approach the problem with an open mindset. The root cause could be a mechanical or electrical issue, general software problem, or algorithm bug. Our goal is always to learn from a mistake and never to place the fault on any one person, which is why we have blameless postmortems. “We solicit anonymous feedback for retrospectives, so everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts on any problems that occurred and how we can prevent them from happening in the future,” says Jackie, a field application engineer. Success for us requires teamwork, and we triage each problem with that in mind.
Symbio advocates taking time away from work to rest, recharge, and reconnect.
While we have ambitious goals at Symbio – and lots to do in order to reach them – it’s important to us that everyone thrives both in and out of the office. Typical work hours are 10am-6pm PST, but we’re flexible. Prefer to get an earlier start or work later in the day? Are you one of our teammates in a different time zone? As long as you’re available for meetings and getting the work done, we trust you to manage your schedule. By communicating frequently and respecting each others’ time we strive to enable a healthy work/life balance.
What’s more, with our unlimited vacation policy, we encourage people to take the time off they need to show up refreshed. Our team members have hobbies ranging from rock climbing to archery, music production, cooking, and more. As we grow, we’re committed to keeping the pace sustainable (and part of that means we’re hiring accordingly!). We work hard but enjoy taking time to bond as a team. We loved throwing parties in our common space pre-pandemic, and it’s something we’re excited about doing again when it’s safe.
Promotes from Within
Symbio is a place where you can grow your career.
We don’t believe there is one right way to grow your career, which is why we offer multiple tracks. The first is remaining an IC, but gaining technical experience in one or more areas (the path to becoming an architect). The second is a project lead, where you’re managing the results of a project (in other words managing the efforts of people, but not directly responsible for hiring), and the third is being a people manager.
Elevating our own people within the company is important to us, especially as we grow. For example, Jacob M was in research to begin with, and has moved from architect to people manager. At least four team members have been promoted to their first ever people management job. Others have stepped into people management roles and then transitioned back to IC because they realized that’s what they enjoyed the most. Our goal is to understand where you want to go and help you gain the exposure and experience to get there. We’ve had mechanical engineers who are interested in software apprentice on the software team, while others have moved into sub-specialties such as computer vision. Whether it’s working on a new project, traveling to a different client, or learning a new part of the stack, engineers can own their career growth here. If this sounds like a good fit, we’d love to hear from you!
Committed to Personal Growth
You’ll have a direct impact on real-world problems, starting day one.
Managers have frequent 1:1s with direct reports to ensure you’re supported and tracking toward the goals you’ve set. “At Symbio, I’m regularly asked about what I’m looking for, where I see myself, and what roles I would like to be a part of,” says Jackie. There’s a lot of opportunity for movement within the company.
Because we value a growth mindset, we offer a $2,500 annual ‘Learning and Development’ stipend, which you can use on things like conferences, professional certifications, books, or even your university degree. For example, Denise achieved her SHRM-CP with Symbio Support, Rachel has explored training options for Docker, and William is working with a leadership coach.
Unlike many other startups, we’re a place where you can actually see your software controlling hardware in a production manufacturing environment. It’s you that writes the code, not somebody two or three levels above you, or an entire team. Hundreds of thousands of cars on the road today were assembled using code we shipped to production, meaning you have a tangible impact starting day one.
We believe in sharing information.
At Symbio, we apply a software-first approach to automation design, creating robotics solutions for the automotive industry that adapt to variance and optimize execution. We regularly solicit input from all engineers. “I feel comfortable reaching out to anyone here for any issue,” says Jackie. Whether it’s at our bi-weekly engineering all-hands meeting or via Slack, we make sure to check in and ask the team the important questions: What are you seeing? How is this working for you? Where do you want to push back?
Not only are we open to contribution from everyone, we expect it.
When we identify that we’ve miscalculated, our leadership team is able to openly say, “what we thought we were going to do isn’t working, so we should pause.” We get input from those closest to the work, figure out the path forward, and remain open to pivoting as needed.
Our physical office space is very conducive to open communication. While many of us have been working remotely during the pandemic (with the exception of folks who need to go in to work on hardware – following COVID-safe protocols of course), we’re looking forward to getting together in-person again soon. We work in a beautiful open warehouse which naturally fosters conversation and provides exposure to different parts of the company. Conversations in the kitchen range from check-ins about weekend mountain climbing adventures, to brainstorming a hardware problem solution, to favorite pasta recipes. As John (program manager) puts it, “people are very collaborative and responsive, but we also do a good job of giving people uninterrupted focus time.”